Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 November 2020:
A Parliamentary Bill entitled – ‘the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion Bill’, received its second reading in parliament this week.
Presenting the Bill to parliamentarians, Government Chief Minister – Dr. David John Francis said that the government is seeking laws to establish an Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion that will promote peace and development in the country.
Speaking for the main opposition – the All People’s Congress (APC) party, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo – MP said although his party did not take part in the Bintumani 3 conference that agreed the formation of a peace commission, they will not seek to undermine the legislation process.
He told MPs that the commission could pave the way for political cohesion and nation building, by bringing the diverse groups of Sierra Leoneans together. He reaffirmed his party’s commitment to supporting the Chief Minister to ensure the Bill becomes law.
Dr Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella – parliamentary leader of the National Ground Coalition (NGC) party, commended the Chief Minister for his work in implementing the recommendation of the Bintumani 3 conference and making it a reality.
He said that peace and development cannot work without respect for basic human rights. But he warned that for the commission to be a success, it must be owned by all political parties, as he called for gender, ethnic and geographical representation in the management of the commission. He proposed the formation of an ethnic monitoring and audit unit within the commission.
Leader of the APC party in parliament – Chernor Manju Bah MP, said he believes in the leadership of the Chief Minister in ensuring a fair and balanced approach to establishing the commission, once the Bill becomes law.
“The Chief Minister has brought before us one of the finest Bills that reflects the current needs of our country,” he told MPs.
Responding to the issues raised by MPs, the chief minister – Dr. David John Francis thanked the parliamentary leadership for demonstrating patriotism in discussing the Bill. He said that the government of President Bio will continue to promote political inclusiveness for the good of every Sierra Leonean.
He also assured MPs that once established the commission will be independent and inclusive.
Before committing the Bill to the parliamentary committee, the leader of Government Business – Mathew Nyuma MP said that the government of President Bio has demonstrated on several occasions its commitment to developing the country.
He said that efforts to transform the lives of the ordinary people must not be politicized, and called on MPs to conduct proper due diligence and arrive at decisions based on the interest of the nation, rather than narrow party political interests.
The Bill is expected to be brought back from Committee to the full House for final debate and voting to become law, in the next few weeks.
It all sounds good on paper but to effectively implement such an important bill when it finally becomes law is a different matter altogether. Surely, Its an admirable effort from the freeloading Chief Minister that clearly appears to be a little too late because their arrogant attitudes have already created an atmosphere of mistrust, hatred and strife in Sierra Leone. Who will be so gullible to trust them now after they have slaughtered unarmed prisoners and innocent youths in Makeni like chickens.
Frankly, they should have prioritized such an important bill since day one when they assumed the reins of power but they didn’t. Hey! if they were really sincere about all this why did they choose to engage in witch-hunts and settling scores instead? This reminds me of a cruel landlord that once burned his house down out of spite for his tenants and starts building grudgingly all over again from scratch after they had gone – makes no sense to me at all; After the race horse has bolted, the SLPP is now frantically trying to close the barn (lol)
It seems clear to me there is a shadowy ulterior motive behind all of this; no doubt this is another slippery, two-faced effort to woo those wary, hesitating investors once again. Listen such a convoluted bill should have been done in a bipartisan manner through and through, strictly for the purposes of transparency and credibility and not by just one person, especially in a poor volatile country like our own simmering with anger and overcrowded with dissenting voices hell-bent on having things their own way.
Yeah. See the Chief Minister there, starring the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. This is what Dr Kandeh Yumkella said – “But he warned that for the commission to be a success, it must be owned by all political parties”. But what is the position of the C4C, the PMDC and the other political parties on this issue? Is the C4C, the PMDC and the other political parties on board or not? Nothing was mentioned by their leaders in this article. I’m curious to know.
Fantastic stuff by Hon Chernor Maju Bah. I’m delighted that the APC parliamentary leader, Mr Chernor Maju Bah has proved as always, to be a very responsible and no nonsense opposition politician. Continue with the good job you are doing in parliament on bipartisan basis to get things sorted. God bless Hon Chernor Maju Bah.
Its only right that the opposition parties support this effort to make this peace and national cohesion Bill into law. At the time when sometimes it felt our country is teetering on the brink, we need a law that can act like a hand break and a reverse gear, before we end up falling over to the unknown. In the past few months, we’ve had a hair raising drive from the Bio government with our hearts in our mouth. Right now Bio is in the driving seat and destination unknown. Post conflict reconciliation is not about revisiting the past, but looking to the future, and forging a social transformation agenda, or a new way forward.
This Bill should become a template for bringing different communities together especially the ones that were most impacted by the war – the silent majority up and down the country. And one of the ways the government can build that damaged trust between the victims and perpetrators, is to organise local community meetings like in town halls and villages under a Mango tree where perpetrators of the crimes are given the opportunity to confess and ask forgiveness. And invest in this local communities to create economic opportunities for the locals. Because we all know poverty breeds violence. Community reconciliation is a must.
As it happened in Liberia, Rwanda. We need a fair and balanced approach to every shade of opinions on the way forward. One cannot impose peace and reconciliation, but rather work on building peace and reconciliation in divided and diverse communities like ours in Sierra Leone. Occasionally, the Bio government should learn to eat a humble pie and consult with the opposition in matters as important as peace and reconciliation in our country. May God bless Sierra Leone.